Math can be a challenging subject to help your child succeed in. Often, children pick up on our cultural indifference to math and think it's so hard that only the "smart kids" get it, or they have such severe math anxiety that even when they understand it, they perform poorly on tests.
Helping your child with their math homework can also be taxing. Most math topics are only used in specific applications, and you may not have used them yourself since school. Adding to this difficulty, the way math is taught evolves more often than in other subjects. Even if you remember math concepts, you may be unfamiliar with how the subject is taught now.
Math can be frustrating for you and your child, but there's some good news—the techniques haven't changed, and with some effort, you'll discover that you can understand how your child is learning these techniques.
However, addressing your child's math anxiety may be more difficult—but not impossible. Read on to learn invaluable tips to calm your child's math anxiety and help them succeed!
Attitude at Home
No one is born good at math—it takes effort for every child. Statements like "I wasn't good at math, so it's okay if you aren't either" can lead kids to have a negative attitude toward math before they even encounter it.
Whenever you talk about math, talk about effort. Instead of talking about how you weren't good at math, acknowledge that it took a lot of effort for you to understand math. Children who understand that success in math is not innate but can improve with effort are more likely to try in their math classes.
Use Real-life Examples
Math was created to be used in real life. The more students connect what they're learning to their real life, the better their attitude about math.
For example, if they're learning about area, you can take your child around the house measuring rooms and calculating the area. Statistics can be taught through fantasy football or batting averages. Percentages and unit rates can be learned at the supermarket, where students can calculate discounts and the price of goods per item.
Focus On What the Student Is Trying To Learn
All too often, students get so caught up in computation that they feel like they can't have any success working out the problem. However, unlike in the past, students will almost always have a calculator on them, so it's fine if they're trying to solve a word problem using a calculator for the long division.
Students should know how to do long division, of course, but if the long division is not the point of the lesson, forcing the students to do long division on every problem will just frustrate them.
Many math errors come down to neatness. Students thought they wrote one number when they wrote another. Students are attempting to add decimals, but they didn't line them up correctly.
Depending on how your child's work is being graded, a small decimal or copying error can cause the entire problem to be wrong. Tell your child to slow down and check to make sure everything is copied correctly—it will pay dividends later.
Make Sure They Understand the Terms
Math has a unique vocabulary, and often students can't perform it—not because they can't do the work—but because they don't understand a word or two. If your student is struggling, make sure they grasp all the vocabulary in the problem. If they don't understand the definition of the terms, they'll struggle with the work even if they comprehend it.
Diagrams and Pictures May Help
Not everyone is an abstract thinker. If your child is a concrete thinker, sketching the problem may help. Drawing the problem out is especially helpful for word problems. It may be hard to understand what the problem is trying to ask. Creating a concrete sketch of the problem may reveal what the student is expected to figure out.
Whenever Possible, Make It Fun
The nice thing about the internet is that there are fun activities for almost any subject. For example, many math games out there can lighten the load of more advanced subjects. Of course, playing games won't replace doing homework, but it will help reinforce the concepts for better outcomes on tests.
Do Some Math Every Day
It's easy for students to believe that math is done at school but not at home. It's pivotal to spend some time every day working on math problems that your child is struggling with in the classroom. You don't need to make the lessons long—even ten minutes a day can make a measurable improvement in a child's performance in school. The child needs to understand that math is useful everywhere, not just in school.
About 93% of adults suffer from some form of math anxiety, and it's all too easy to pass that fear onto your children. Math anxiety can be even sharper when your children are not learning math using the same methods you used growing up.
The key is to calm down and not give up. Using the tips provided in this article, you can lessen your own math anxiety and help your child be a better math student. Remember, math takes effort. The important thing is to let your child know that the effort is worth it.
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